Brightie (Brighty)


 N 43° 29.898′,  W 86° 29.892′,  off Whitehall in 75 ft of water

The Brightie, also known as the Brighty, was built in1868 in Cleveland by the well known shipbuilders Lafrinier and Drake Company, under the supervision of Mr. Ira Lafrinier, for H. J. and R. K. Winslow. Named in honor of the daughter of H. J. Winslow, who died in Europe, it measured 182 feet long, 33 feet 6 inches in breadth and 15 feet in depth. It measured 600 tons, new style, had a carrying capacity of 40,000 bushels of corn and cost in the neighborhood of $45,000.

Her foremast measured 96 feet in length; fore-topmast, 67 feet; mainmast, 98 feet; main-topmast, 67 feet; Mizzen mast, 88 feet; and mizzen topmast 56 feet. She was supplied with all the modern improvements, including a patent centerboard winch. Her cabin, which was on deck, was called, “a fine piece of workmanship which is large and airy”.

Within 3 months of her first voyage she ran aground at Point Pelee in Lake Erie. After a few hours she was able to get herself free and completed her voyage. This was just the first of many early misfortunes for the Brightie.

Less than a year later, she ran aground at the same location, and 11 months after that, she was involved in a collision near Racine with the schooner Louisa McDonald. In December of the following year, The Brightie went aground at Washington Island and had to be towed to port by the schooner Leviathan.

By 1886 the Brightie had her center mast (main) removed and was being used as a tow-barge. Even as a barge, her luck did not change. It was in 1886 that the RUST struck the barge on the starboard bow, cutting her down to the water’s edge. Fortunately the Brightie was at port when the accident occurred.

In 1905 the barges Brightie and Goshawk were in tow of the Bradley near Squaw Island on the Niagara River when the line holding them parted. The barges began to drift helplessly down the east side of the river near the American shore and threatened to crash into the pier. Quick action by Captain Robert McMurray of the tug Internstional averted what might have been a serious accident by catching the two barges heavily loaded with lumber.

First he caught the Brightie and towed her a short distance before losing her rudder. McMurray beached the Brightie in the mud of Squaw Island and directed his attention to the Goshawk. Once he had the GOSHAWK in tow, he took her through the bridge and turned her over to the Bradley.

On Aug. 23 1928, the Brightie sank in a mild blow off Whitehall, Michigan, with seven persons on board. One life was lost. Loaded with pulpwood, her seams opened up. It was reported that her 60-year-old hull just gave up.